HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 cc17-8
63. Mr. Mullin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he proposes to take in the light of of the recent Oxfam paper on the use of United Nations aid to refugees on the Thai-Kampuchean border, a copy of which has been sent to him.

Mr. Chris Patten

The refugees on the Thai-Cambodian border, who are there as a result of Vietnamese military operations in Cambodia, have no means of support other than the international humanitarian assistance provided by donor countries such as Britain. Most of that assistance is channelled through United Nations agencies. We shall continue our contribution to the international relief effort for the refugees and our political support for efforts aimed at securing a peaceful solution to the problem.

Mr. Mullin

Does the Minister not consider it shameful that British taxpayers' money is supporting what is in effect a front organisation for the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot?

Mr. Patten

No, because it is not.

Mr. Alton

Is the Minister aware that the Jesuit Refugee Service estimates that there are now about 386,000 displaced persons in Thailand, 54,000 of whom are Kampucheans? Can he say that the Government will not take into account political considerations when determin-ing what aid to give those people who are living in squalid conditions in refugee camps? What help are the Government giving to ensure that a political initiative is taken whereby Vietnamese troops will be withdrawn from Kampuchea?

Mr. Patten

We have provided £13 million through United Nations agencies and international relief organisa-tions for refugee programmes in the area. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about the importance of continuing to give that humanitarian assistance. We are also prepared to consider humanitarian assistance projects within Cambodia, but we are not prepared to consider support for developmental projects in Cambodia that would support the Government there and the occupying forces of Vietnam.